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Stories out of school

GAYS MILLS - This time of the year, as the school year draws to a close, puts me in mind of a lot of memories I accumulated as a high school teacher. I was in high school for a total of 33 years, not counting the four (or so) that I spent as a student. There are bound to be numerous memories involved with that much time involved in a career.

A fellow retired teacher friend of mine claims that being involved with young people day in and day out keeps you young.  And, I think he’s got a point. The students are what I miss about teaching. Here are some of my memorable moments.

Vince’s steer.  FFA members often buy or raise animals to take to the fair. One such student, Vince, bought a nice Hereford steer from an area rancher. The ranch where this steer was born had a large pond in the pasture that often had a wide mud flat around it as the season progressed. The entire herd learned that to avoid human contact, they simply had to slog through the mud toward the water. When Vince got his steer home, he put it in a nice little corral complete with an old bathtub for a watering tank.  The first day he went out to begin working with the steer, the critter, as gracefully as he could, stepped into the bathtub, thinking he was safe. It must have been quite shock when Vince walked right up to him. 

Seedless watermelon. For several years I taught an eighth grade class called Exploring Agriculture. It was a mandatory nine-week course.  We took a broad look at what makes up agriculture and its importance to everyone. I explained the difference between fruits and vegetables, for example. A fruit is defined as a plant with fleshy seed covering, an apple, a pear, etc. A vegetable is a plant with other edible parts such as roots, stems, and leaves. A bright-eyed eighth grade girl asked a completely logical question: does that mean a seedless watermelon is then considered a vegetable?

Guns in School. Way before there was such a problem as the school shootings we‘ve witnessed recently, the local FFA Chapter was invited by the Boscobel Chapter to participate in an after-school trap and target shoot at their local sportsman’s club. Interest was high. Students were allowed to bring their shotguns and .22s to school the day of the shoot and turn them in at the school office until it was time for the trip. About 20 of them did. It was a weird feeling driving the bus with all the guns aboard. By the way, it’s good to see the recent development of the local community trap shooting organization for students, which takes place outside of school.

Destination pole. We became big fans of the TV show MASH long after it went off the air, thanks to DVDs. One of the iconic features of the show was, I’ll call it the destination pole. It was that tall post with wooden arrows pointing to various cities put up by homesick GI’s far from home. Based on that pole, I hatched an idea to make such a pole every spring for the graduating seniors. You can do that sort of thing in a small high school such as North Crawford, everyone fits on one pole.  The shop class made a sturdy eight-foot-tall stand from a 4x4. A 12-foot heavy-duty carpet tube was placed over it. At the top was a ‘Class of  _____’ sign. Each senior was given a cardboard arrow to decorate as they saw fit telling their name and where they were headed after graduation. The arrows attached to the pole made an impressive visual. It seemed like a fitting tribute to cap off 13 years of education.